Surf the Earth with SnoPlanks
"Why not develop product geared towards the greatest days you could possibly have on any mountain" - Holmes on mission
Outdoors sports and manufacturing are at the core of what Central Oregon is all about. SnoPlanks is a powder focused snowboard and ski manufacturer right here in Bend, where the long seasons and friendly business environment is the perfect place for James Nicol and Ryan Holmes to incubate their promising brand in collaboration with the community.
Surf, sun, ski
San Diego roots
- James Nicol and Ryan Holmes met at the University of San Diego where the inspiration for SnoPlanks traces its roots. "It's such an outdoor, active community," Holmes admits. "We've been really able to tap into the emotions of surfing, and liken our products and what the experience provides on a SnoPlank, to that of what it feels like to being on the ocean on a wave."
- "The mantra for SnoPlanks is surf the powder, surf the mountain, surf the Earth," says Nicol. "Living in San Diego and accessing the ocean on a daily basis really created a backbone for this brand in a lot of ways. And the way we present the brand is almost as much of a surf brand as it is a snowboard brand." You can feel the beach vibes in everything SnoPlanks does, from it's designs, to it's marketing, to it's culture.
On craft manufacturing
Learning the ropes
- It's easy to take for granted the skill, time, and dedication it takes to make great products. Nicol reflects on the early days. "It took two years before we even had something that we would ever want to bring to market. Two years of vetting the product. Two years of riding the product. Two years of trying to break the product." Holmes adds "The only way to really develop a high-end, high-performing product is through years and years of trial and error."
- While SnoPlanks works on some all mountain designs, you can really feel the passion they have for making handcrafted and specific products for powder. "You have that split board for the day that you want to go ahead and hike Tumalo or Broken Top or South Sister, you've got that edgeless powder board for that day it dumps 10 inches of snow, you've got those edge twin tip boards for certain days," Holmes points out. "When you are looking for the best powder riding experience you could possibly have, that's where you need a SnoPlank." It's tough to argue with that.
In Bend, community is key
On local support
- "This is a very entrepreneur-rich environment, and people can be successful here if they allow themselves to open up to the community," said Nicol in reference to their involvement at the Bend Venture Conference last year where they won a $15,000 award. "You always want to be a part of your community as a company, and the best way for us to do that is through our product," he added. The duo had a lot to say about what's next for them, but what impressed me most was Holmes challenging the company to think about "How we can continue to give back and how we can continue to provide value to the greater good."
Having fun with it too
- "We've had some awesome collaborations," noted Nicol. SnoPlanks worked with legendary rider Gerry Lopez this summer to develop a line of skateboards, helping the company branch out into a new market. Holmes referenced "The overwhelming support that companies are willing to give to one another," which sometimes is as simple as making a "bamboo carbon-fiber SnoPlank shot ski" for Boneyard Beer to use in their tasting room. If you don't know exactly what that is, then check this out.
The best day you could ever have on Mt. Bachelor
I asked them for some tips and tricks on how to make it all work
- "Step one is make sure you've got your crew...but make sure they can rip" said Holmes. "The days that are most memorable are the ones where James, or a group of buddies, or family are up there all thriving in that experience together." He also suggests paying close attention to condition reports in order to take advantage of the good powder days. "You gotta plan your calendar around these storms coming in, clear your schedule, call in sick, do whatever you have to do," says Holmes. Nicol addressed the more tactical items saying, "Get to the mountain at 7:30, miss traffic, hike the cone, and get some fresh laps in. Go ride Sky until Summit opens if its a sunny pow day, and then session backside summit all day to Northwest. That's gonna be your best day at Bachelor for sure, and it's pretty much unbeatable."
Favorite place after riding the mountain all day
The ultimate tailgate
- While Holmes voted for Crux, Nicol is a fan of a good old fashioned tailgate in the Sunrise parking lot at Mt. Bachelor
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